TV streaming services are getting more expensive. Last month, AT&T bumped the price of DirecTV Now from $40 to $50 per month and YouTube just announced that YouTube TV is increasing its price to $50 per month (from $40 per month), the service’s second price hike since it launched in early 2017. While YouTube TV is adding 10 new channels alongside the price jump, the channels are a bundle deal — subscribers who don’t want the extra channels (or the extra cost) can’t opt out.
These price increases are not much out of line with other TV streaming services: PlayStation Vue and Hulu with Live TV both cost $45 per month. There are a few cable TV replacements for under $25, including Sling TV, though they also offers fewer channels than most. But even on the most budget-friendly streaming plan, these costs — and cost increases — are starting to add up.
That’s particularly true if you’re supplementing streaming options with other subscriptions like Netflix ($13/mo, since the service raised its prices), Amazon Prime Video ($9/mo), HBO ($15/mo), or the just-announced Disney+ ($7/mo), launching on November 12, 2019. And the cost of these extras, each of which offer exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else, is just going to grow. For instance, all Disney content is leaving Netflix. Soon, Disney+ will be the only place to find Star Wars and Marvel movies online, in addition to new original shows. Apple is also launching its own streaming service, Apple TV+, with original content from big names like J.J. Abrams and Oprah Winfrey. Even more companies have less specific streaming plans: WarnerMedia plans on launching a service to stream its massive movie library, and Discovery is teaming up with the BBC for a streaming service focused on science, nature and history programming.
Soon, cord cutters are going to have to start doing the math to see if streaming TV is actually saving the money. The average cable TV package costs $72 per month, or $65 per month if you bundle it with internet — which you would be if you’re already streaming. And you can find deals that are much cheaper than that: Comcast is currently offering packages starting at $25 per month and DirecTV offers packages starting at $35 per month, and both offer more channels than streaming services. Though cable companies are notorious for limited time deals that offer you a bargain for just the first 12 months — both the Comcast and DirecTV prices cited are only for new subscribers — you can often stretch those discounts out by calling your cable provider.
Streaming services still offer a big benefit over cable: flexible month-to-month commitments with straightforward pricing. But in most areas, cable TV is catching up. While streaming services used to offer the advantage of on-demand access, most cable providers offer the same with a sign-in. Streaming services are still more convenient, typically offering more on-demand programming and cloud-based DVR recording, but the gap between streaming TV and cable TV is closing.
For now, you’re probably still saving money with a TV streaming service — but not as much money as you used to. So get out your calculator to see if you're still saving, and check out our favorite free movie and TV streaming services and our guide to setting up streaming services on your TV.
[Image credit: watching TV with remote control via BigStockPhoto]